Kaoru Abe

Solo 1972.4.11

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The late Japanese avant-garde saxophonist's most productive period is well-documented on the P.S.F and Tokuma labels from Japan. However, his recordings were not widely released, and he published only a few LPs in his lifetime. Maybe it took until the late '90s before the wider world was ready for this music. One of the most challenging musical voices of the free jazz idiom, Kaoru Abe could be put alongside Albert Ayler, Anthony Braxton, and Evan Parker in the history of avant garde jazz. In his prime playing solo, this 1972 recording finds him at the peak of his own instrumental discovery -- pushing the instrument beyond its sonic capabilities into abrasive, jagged flurries and wailing blue cries. His signature sound is the off-cut splutters, where his playing collapses into extended silent pauses that indicate the absolute physicality of his playing, where the exhausted pauses provide a tension in the air that is comparable to few other recordings in free jazz. Kaoru Abe's music fuses an avant-garde austerity with the impassioned cry of free jazz, his solo recordings from this period are outstanding above any of his work in trios and duos. His music is so complex and overpowering it is hard to place in any group context -- and there is so much activity in a single second as to provide a compelling listen throughout. Not for the faint-hearted, on Solo 1972.4.11, Abe changed the shape of avant-garde jazz...yet very few were there listening.

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